When you experience a traumatic event in your life they may not realise how it may have affected you. You may think it's not like you had a life-threatening event!
Many brush it off – after all we are used to the British Stiff Upper Lip.
‘Get over it’
‘Stop being so weak’
‘Let’s have a night out. After a few drinks, you will forget it all’
You tell yourself there are people worse off than you. You keep busy, distract yourself- either building your career, taking on a project, activities, sport, alcohol, drugs, porn, sex, retail therapy…………..the list of ways to distract yourself is endless. But that's all they are - distractions.
You bury your emotions. Numbing them.
But you can’t be selective. When you bury the ones that cause you pain, you are likely to bury the others too. Or you may find that you act completely out of character in certain circumstances. Getting angry for no reason, or crying all the time.
You build a wall around yourself, that no one can penetrate. You convince yourself that you are ok.
But in the small wee hours, when you can’t sleep and your mind is going at one hundred miles an hour, when you are feeling stressed, those thoughts come back.
Or perhaps something comes into your head that reminds you.
Any one of our senses can be a trigger
Just like the smell of fresh-cut grass can remind us of happy times. Or a song can evoke fond memories, so can the unpleasant ones.
It could be a smell, a taste, a sound, a word, a phrase, a colour, a person. Any number of things will cause you to feel uncomfortable, maybe it causes you to experience an anxiety attack. You have no idea why as you thought you had packed it all neatly away, but something has triggered you, and now you are struggling.
When you finally get the courage to share it with your partner, a close friend, a family member they can’t understand. They say it’s so long ago, why does it still affect you? Or they dismiss you, commenting that you are exaggerating, or try to convince you that you are wrong and it didn't happen the way you remember it.
That only makes it worse as you feel so alone. No-one understands.
Left unhealed these wounds will continue to haunt you, reminding you when you least expect it. Generally, you are able to get on with your life, but it’s still there, just like a nagging toothache.
Trauma, whether physical or emotional, can be held in the body. Manifesting itself in a physical condition, or an emotional state.
I work with many people just like the one I described above.
Maybe they become really stressed, they lose a loved one, they have a back reaction to drugs, their partner leaves them………………it could be anything. They seek help for a myriad of problems. They can’t cope any more and don’t know where to turn. They may get medication from their GP, or if they are lucky a few free sessions of CBT, which may be enough to get them back on their feet again.
But sometimes, that’s not enough, because those ghosts are still around – haunting them. They really haven’t healed, because they haven't dealt with the traumatic event that is at the root of the problem.
Finding the right person for support is so important. A therapist who understands trauma and has been trained to work with it. Many people feel concerned they will have to relive the trauma, and of course, that’s far too painful and unnecessary to help the healing process.
If you want to have a chat to find out if I can help, then email me – firstname.lastname@example.org or book a free call with me.